Source: (2004) Santa Clara Law Review. 44: 1159-1176. Downloaded 7 September 2004.
Outside of prison, work and wages, or the lack of either, are often occasions for injustice. However, when the issues of work, lack of work, and fair wages arise within the prison system, a hothouse of injustice flourishes. Currently most of the two million people in jails and prisons in this country are not working. Those who do work overwhelmingly do not receive fair pay for their labor. Because prisoners are mostly idle, they are not able to support their families on the outside, make restitution to victims, or contribute to their own support. Work is a social good, as are support of families and restitution to victims. Yet two million are idle.
Catholic social thought has some simple yet profound justice ideas to contribute to this issue, such as essential human dignity of all, reconciliation, rehabilitation, and the right to a work for a family wage. This article briefly explores these ideas and examines the intersection of prison work, prison wages, law, Catholic social thought, and justice and ends with a call for a new way of looking at prison work and prison wages. (excerpt)
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